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Businesses have also started using online communities to communicate with their customers about their products and services as well as to share information about the business.
Other online communities allow a wide variety of professionals to come together to share thoughts, ideas and theories.
The first traceable example of such a site is Six set up in 1997 which included a friends list and the ability to send messages to members linked to friends and see other users associations.
For over a decade the popularity of such networks has been growing with Friendster the first social network to gain mass media attention however by 2004 it had been overtaken in popularity by Myspace which was later overtaken by Facebook, by far the most popular social network currently attracting 1.23 billion monthly users in 2013, a rapid increase from 145 million in 2008.
Mark Lawson of The Guardian recounts how fans have, to a degree, directed the outcome of the events of the episode.
He says that "Sherlock has always been one of the most web-aware shows, among the first to find a satisfying way of representing electronic chatter on-screen." Online communities may encourage individuals to come together to teach and learn from one another.
Unexpected and innovative uses of web communities have also emerged with Social networks being used in conflicts to alert citizens of impending attacks, The amount of traffic to such websites is expected to increase as by the end of 2015 it is estimated 42% of the worlds population will have internet access compared to 17.6% in 2006 according to the European Travel Commission Online communities are dynamic by nature and there are researchers and organizations working to classify them.
There are different types of blogs including Microblogging where the amount of information in a single element is smaller as on the popular social network site Twitter and Liveblogging when an ongoing event is blogged upon in real time, this has been used to live update important worldwide stories including a Twitter user inadvertently live blogging the raid which killed Osama bin Laden.
The ease and convenience of blogging has allowed for its growth with platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr combining social media and blogging alongside other solutions such as Word Press which allow content to be hosted on their own servers or for users to download and install the software on their own servers where user made modifications can be added.
She says that: "More than any other commercial sector, the popular culture industry relies on online communities to publicize and provide testimonials for their products." The strength of the online community's power is displayed through the season 3 premiere of BBC's Sherlock.
Online activity by fans seem to have had a noticeable influence on the plot and direction of the season opening episode.